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The stock market today is battling with mixed earnings reports from some of the world's biggest companies.
The main economic indicator today was new home sales, which fell 8.4% in June to an annual pace of 350,000. Analysts had expected the sales rate to be closer to 380,000.
While home prices and permits to build new homes have risen lately, this report could put a damper on the housing market's turnaround.
In Washington, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared before the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday morning to testify on the economy. He appeared as part of his duties as chief of the regulatory group the Financial Stability Oversight Council.
His opening statement drilled home the point that Europe is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy, but that the banks are in much better financial shape than they were four years ago.
Geithner is expected to be questioned regarding his role in the Libor manipulation scandal while he served on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Earnings in the Stock Market Today: AAPL, CAT, BA
Meanwhile, what seemed like a strong start to earnings season has quickly turned in to a nightmare for some investors.
Even when some companies like Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) beat earnings, many are still offering lower guidance for the remainder of the year. Netflix reported its earnings after Tuesday's close and is down more than 20% in early trading today.
Besides Netflix here are some other companies that are moving the markets today.
Apple earned $8.8 billion or just $9.32 per share in the third quarter compared to analyst expectations of $10.38 per share. That put Apple's bottom-line growth at 27.5% year over year, around a quarter of last year's growth of 125%.
Ominously, Apple lowered guidance for the current quarter (Apple's Q4) to earnings per share of $7.65, significantly under Wall Street's consensus of $10.22. Apple said revenue for the next quarter will be $34 billion, $4 billion less than analysts' forecast.
The only positives were the iPad and iPod numbers. Sales of the iPad were 17 million, beating the consensus of about 15 million. Sales of Apple's iPod, which have been slowing for years, were actually up 10% to 6.8 million.
AAPL is down 5% in early trading and is leading the Nasdaq, which is down 0.49%, into the red.
Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and issued one of the stronger outlooks delivered by any company recently.
The world's largest maker of construction equipment reported a second-quarter profit of $1.67 billion, or $2.54 per share, up 67% from last year's $1.52 EPS. Analysts had expected earnings per share of $2.28.
Revenue rose to $17.37 billion, ahead of analysts' projections of $17.11 billion.
CEO Doug Oberhelman acknowledged the difficult economy but sounded optimistic saying, "While we're expecting a record year in 2012, we understand the world is facing economic challenges, and if it becomes necessary, we are prepared to act quickly. The good news is, this doesn't feel like 2008."
Caterpillar raised its yearly guidance to $9.60 per share in 2012, up from a previous forecast of $9.50.
Shares of CAT were up more than 2% in early trading.
The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) reported second-quarter profits that were a welcome surprise to investors who fear a slowdown for the company due to defense cuts (courtesy of the looming fiscal cliff).
The company reported net income of $967 million, or $1.27 per share, for the April-June period compared with $941 million, or $1.25 per share, a year earlier. Revenue increased 21% to $20 billion from $16.54 billion a year ago.
Analysts had expected earnings of $1.13 per share on revenue of $19.28 billion.
The Chicago-based company now expects to earn $4.40 to $4.60 per share, up from $4.15 to $4.35. Yet, that is still lower than the $4.57 EPS Wall Street has predicted.
Shares of BA rose 1.8 % in early trading.
The Dow Jones today was up 43 points, or 0.34%, and the S&P 500 was down 3.42 points, or 0.26%, as of noon.
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